Most dogs given the opportunity, the time and the place will dig. And they dig indiscriminately, generally in your favorite flower bed. What can we do to prevent digging? Well, let’s examine some reasons for digging and options to discourage it.
Dogs dig for a number of reasons and it can be a very difficult behavior to change. Breeds with more of the habit than most are Terriers, Beagles, Basset Hounds, Nordic dogs, to name a few. Some will bury bones or other treasures and later dig them up. In the heat of summer, some dogs dig to make a cool area to lie in. Dogs also dig to make a bed. Some breeds normally dig for prey. Some dogs are just bored. And some, just like kids, can’t resist the lure of digging in dirt. Then there are dogs that are looking for more attention.
With all this in mind, consider landscaping to accommodate your digger.
If your area is fenced in, keep a path between the fence and any planting. This gives your dog an opportunity to patrol the fence without damaging plants. You can brick the path or use mulch or small pebbles, some that come in colors and enhance your garden. Mulch or bricks can be used on any high traffic area and around existing plants. NEVER use cocoa hulls as mulch. They smell like chocolate and dogs will be attracted to them. The hulls, if eaten in sufficient quantity, can be toxic.
If you want privacy, place strong bushes near the path that are not easily destroyed. I chose rose bushes as they have color, scent and their thorns act as deterrents.
Consider using attractive containers or raised planters. Dogs don’t usually bother with these, but they can be moved easily if there is a problem.
Another solution is to use available sprays and powders that claim to keep dogs off and discourage digging.
If your dog’s habit is to dig under the fence, make sure it’s set in the ground deep enough to prevent escape. Or put some chicken wire at the bottom of the fence.
You could set aside a special area for your dog to dig in. Place dirt, leaves, grass or special sand in the area. Bury some treats and show your dog how to dig them up. Keep replacing the treats (not too many so your dog doesn’t get fat)until your dog realizes this is the best place to dig to get a reward.
Some people will turn on the water sprinklers, but if your dogs are anything like mine, they love playing in the water and it doesn’t seem to stop them from digging.
Basic training, obeying commands will also be an aid in stopping your dog from digging. When your dog is outdoors in your garden, keep an eye on behavior. If you have to leave your house, think about keeping your dog indoors until you return.
One of the best solutions to keep your dog from digging up your garden is exercise. Walk your dog a couple of times a day. Set aside together playtime. A tired dog doesn’t get into mischief.
When choosing plants for your garden, consider your pets. Select plants that are not poisonous. Check our article “How do I keep my garden Pet-safe” for a list of poisonous plants. For a more comprehensive list of poisonous plants for dogs, cats and horses, check with the ASPCA website. They list the hundreds of plants poisonous to pets.
Putting a lot of thought into landscaping your garden will make you and your dog happy. (Your cat too!)